It was April 10, 2010. My boyfriend at the time (now husband), was totally stoked that Philadelphia was finally getting a professional soccer team. Me? Not so much. At the time, I was really into baseball, and thought that soccer just wasn't something Americans were excited about. It was something that "they" watched. However, I reluctantly attended the game with him because, hey, I support Philadelphia sports teams. That day will be forever seared into my memory as a turning point for my life. That may seem over dramatic, and maybe it is, but it started an obsession that has brought so many good experiences, and good people, into my life.
So, myself and just under 35,000 of my closest friends witnessed the first ever Union home match of their history. Sebastien Le Toux was a major part of that experience. As history now tells, Seba achieved the club's first hat trick which totally added to the electrifying environment of the day. From that day forward, I was hooked and thus started the adventure.
Then came the 2012 season. What do you mean the Union traded their number one goal scorer? I was totally beside myself and was in disbelief that the team would pull such a move. Much from the Nowak era was totally messed up and I'm choosing to gloss over it. So...come to the end of the 2012 season, and Seba was finally back home where he belonged. He went on to become the club's all time leading goal scorer as well as, the all time leading goal scorer in U.S. Open Cup history. He has provided years of blood, sweat, and tears, all while being a completely stand up guy with the fans. He was truly one of us, even though he was Frencher than me and you.
Now here we are in the 2016 season. The Union are sitting in fourth place in the tightly contested Eastern Conference. The Union are in a position to really make a splash in the playoffs, but with the departure of Vincent Nogueira, the team has been going through a rough patch and clearly needed some upgrades in order to continue to be a major contender. With the acquisition of Alejandro Bedoya and Charlie Davies, it behooved the Union to make some smart business decisions. Sebastien Le Toux, with a base salary of $300,000, was a common sense player to look in terms selling and off load some salary. Though a fan favorite, Le Toux has lost some of what he once had due to age. He was also going to be a free agent at the end of the year. All of this added up to the logical business decision that the front office should attempt to get some value for him while they can.
I know there are many fans out there that are angry that this occurred. However, this is not the same time that it was in 2012. He is not our current leading goal scorer, and he has lost some of his pace. While I absolutely hate to see him go and am very sad, my logical brain tells me that this needed to be done and it needed to be done now. We are on the cusp of having an MLS team that can make a deep run into the playoffs (maybe we will even get that elusive Cup before the Red Bulls do). In order to make this team go to that next level, some additions and subtractions needed to be made. This move sadly made very good business sense.
With that said, I truly thank Sebastien for all of the passion and hard work he has shown out on the pitch while in the Union uniform. I wish him nothing but the absolute best in the next phase of his journey with Colorado. My only hope is that when it is time for him to hang up the cleats, that the Philadelphia Union offer him a one-day contract so that he may play a testimonial match and retire as a Union player.
Sebastien, you will always be a Philadelphia Union play to me. Merci.